Manifesto Festival 8th Annual Art Show features Visual Artists from around the GTA.
I met these two beautiful women, Esie Mensah and Sara Golish, at the Opening Night art exhibit at Manifesto two years ago. Esie was proudly standing in front of the stunning portrait Sara had painted of her. I noted both these women had serious style. But more than that, they had spirit. I have a knack for picking out the good souls in a crowd. They were both vibrant and gracious, two qualities this world needs more of.
From Haida artist Robert Davidson to American artist Kara Walker Mixed Bag Mag covered a lot of artistic ground.
My art muscle is damn strong! In 4 days I was able to cover (almost) everything. It was a major marathon (Bed-Stuy to Manhattan – up to Harlem – back to Brooklyn) but I arrived at the finish line inspired by all that New York has to offer right now.
It was the small-but-mighty shows that grabbed my attention the most and made me regret that I wouldn’t be staying longer.
& of course Surveillapocalypse with the 007 Collective and artCodex at Five Myles Gallery Brooklyn. The work of Brooklyn based artist David Wallace was beautiful to witness.
I have been around the world – East Berlin during the Reunification of Germany, L.A. during the Rodney King riots, even Johannesburg leading up to the elections where Mandela’s win changed the course of history…
…but never New York!
Sometimes living close by a place makes you take it for granted. This trip was about righting that wrong and finally showing some love to New York. And the timing couldn’t have been better for gathering MIXED BAG MAG style content! Also on the agenda was Kara Walker’s A Subtlety at the Domino Sugar Factory in Brooklyn as well as seeing Ai Wei Wei’s According to What for a second time at the Brooklyn Museum. It was interesting comparing this iteration of the show to last year’s at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO). Another chance at comparison will be when the AGO hostsBefore and after the Horizon: Anishinaabe Artists of the Great Lakes, currently on at the National Museum of the American Indian.
When you deep dive into a city’s art scene to explore different neighbourhoods with their private galleries, artist-run centres and national institutions you witness how much art enriches the lives of the inhabitants as well as the visitors. Life wouldn’t be as wonderful without artists!
I got a little lazy pulling out my clunky pro camera so I decided instead to capture New York thru the lightness of a cell cam. Here is just a small sampling of what I experienced. There will be more trips south of the border in an effort to uncover how artists transform urban spaces and cultural places but for this moment I was just a 21st Century flâneur with a phone.
Maria Hupfield stands in front of “Splash” a sculpture by Haitian-American artist Engles.
Tomorrow’s forecast in Toronto? Perfect Weather with possibility of plenty of art!
MIXED BAG MAG recommends heading North of the city this weekend for 2 important shows that speak to our expanding urban centres / suburbs and promote dialogue around how to be more intentional around our future growth.
Due to popular demand Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky’s The Landscape that We Change is held over until Thanksgiving Monday at The McMichael in picturesque Kleinburg, Ontario.
“Burtynsky does not seek to position his images into the realm of political polemic. The artist has stated that they “are what they are.” His photographs engage the observer through what the artist refers to as a “duality” in the viewing process. In Burtynsky’s aesthetic interpretation, his images render the subject most often in rich colour, detail, and textural qualities. Simultaneously, the observer is made aware of the devastation and altered state of nature that is portrayed. The tension generated by mediating the dual nature of the individual’s response to the image is intended to provoke a thoughtful dialogue about the environment and societal attitudes.” Read more…
For more information on planning your visit to The McMichael click here.
IAIN BAXTER&’s “Markhamaze” at the Land|Slide Possible Futures exhibit.
Over in Markham is the much talked about Land|Slide Possible Futures exhibit that includes a large group of national and international artists covering the 25 acre grounds of the Markham Museum. Taking art of out the gallery space and plunking it into the perfect autumn setting of changing leaves, grass and blue skies was a pretty brilliant idea! Tomorrow will be my 4th visit. Green space + public art = My Idea of a Day Well Spent!
“Land|Slide Possible Futures is a groundbreaking large-scale public art exhibition which responds to a world in transition where the past, present and future collide. The landscape of Markham will be transformed by the work of over 30 national and international artists to explore themes of multiculturalism, sustainability, and community.” Read more…
FYI – FREE SHUTTLE SERVICE on Saturday from MOCCA & CSI Bathurst. Below info from Land|Slide’s Facebook page.
This will take you up just in time for a talk by urban planners/artists Department of Unusual Certainties at 2:30PM, and a planning tour led by Land|Slide planning experts Lisa Hosale, Sara Udow and Katherine Perrott.
All above images by Leah Snyder for Mixed Bag Mag.
Art work from top to bottom:
Inside the wigwam of Julie Nagam’s “singing our bones home” install
Close up at video for Camille Turner’s AfroFuturist performance “Time Warp”
Architect Frank Haverman’s install “Untitled” (I call it “Brilliant”)
IAIN BAXTER&’s “Markhamaze” at the Land|Slide Possible Futures exhibit.
When Iranian artist Shirin Neshat’s photography first started appearing the language, whether you understood Farsi or not, was explosive.
The images mixed violence, tenderness, and sensuality in a way I had never encountered before. I was used to seeing women valued in art as an aesthetic but not as a stage upon which a woman could perform an act of defiance by literally writing the script of her own point of view upon the body.
This was 1990s and the voices of women artists, especially of non-Western origin, were still muffled under the (wet) blanket of Modernity’s traditions in the way we were to experience art, talk about art as well as conduct the business of art.
“I feel a strong parallel between the writings of contemporary Iranian poets and my images, which visualize the metaphors that are so important in the text.” ~ Shirin Neshat in World Art Magazine, 1996
no one is thinking about the flowers
no one is thinking about the fish
no one wants to believe
the garden is dying
that the garden’s heart is swollen under the sun
that the garden
is slowly forgetting its green moments
~ Forugh Farrokhzād
For me, the contemporary art I was studying in university and experiencing in galleries felt foreign and unrecognizable – not so much to my eyes but to my soul. In the experience of Shirin’s work I found a homeland. It was the gestures – the female hands and lips. It was the look in the eyes staring from one female to another. This time a woman’s gaze was directing the compositional outcome.
Since that time there has been an outburst of women in art. Internationally the work of women is some of the most exciting work to be encountered. The art is layered with explorative technique and quick cleverness as well as being emotionally charged.
But the commentary provided in the work is not exclusive to the female mind. Much of the work being produced is about the experience of being human.
Sona Safaei-Sooreh’s installation Alphabet and Border, currently showing at York Quay Gallery (Harbourfront Centre) as part of curator Sanaz Mazinani‘s The Third Space Exhibit uses a video of English text converging with Farsi script to get the audience to consider the contemporary condition of ever collapsing boundaries.
“Border is a video installation in which Farsi and English texts move towards a corner of a room and disappear on the borderline of two walls. It is about arbitrariness of rules and regulations, the sense of in-between-ness, duality and ambivalence that one experiences in a transcultural situation.
The borderline is a narrow vertical line between two walls: the joint. The place two walls meet. This very “thin line” changes the direction of one’s eye, all of a sudden similar to geopolitical borders in between countries. One step back or forth one is occupied with different laws and orders.”
This beautiful short by Elnaz Maassoumian treats text in a different way less about its abstraction and more about the poetics of its meaning as interpreted by the viewer.
“I am interested in Gaston Bachelard’s idea from The Poetics of Space. Bachelard talks about different kinds of spaces: nests, shells, corners…These spaces are approached both from their physical and metaphorical aspects: they offer refuge and constitute ‘doors for the imagination’. I am interested in the potentials of space. By this I mean the exploration of the possible uses that a space offers. I am approaching this through the reconfiguration of a given space to accommodate specific needs which can change over time. For these purposes, flexible, malleable materials constitute ideal means. They can be easily retooled or reshape to conform given purposes. They also open rich possibilities for redefinition of the relation between private-public; in-out; isolation-connection; visible-invisible.” More images on Elnaz’s website
To gain more insight into Shirin’s powerful imagery, both in the still and moving image, MIXED BAG MAG recommends Tirgan Festival at Harbourfront Centre this coming weekend. Shirin will be giving talks on her body of work and there will be screenings of both her feature film Women Without Men as well as her shorts. All events are FREE!
The weekend wrapup for Summerworks & Planet IndigenUS!
The rain never came this weekend and it was a good thing as MIXED BAG MAG was all over the city! Saturday was www.summerworks.ca and Waawaate Fobister’s “Medicine Boy” along with www.queenwestmusicfest.com over at Trinity Bellwoods Park.
Figuring we would pay for the forecasted rain that never came on Saturday, it was a welcome surprise when Sunday turned out to be as stunning as the day before. With the combination of stellar weather and the closing of Planet IndigenUS, Harbourfront was packed out. MIXED BAG MAG attended Canadian-Mexican artist Rodrigo Marti’s tour of the PowerPlant’s current exhibit “ Tools for Conviviality” then headed over to take in 3 exhibits at Harbourfront Centre – “Not So Fast | NSF”, “BORN AGAIN: Repurposed City”, and ”This We Know” an exhibition of recent work by the students in the Aboriginal Visual Culture Program at OCAD U.
Next it was all about relaxing – listening to music performed by Aboriginal artists with the backdrop of the lake, chatting with tourists then drinking fresh coconut water that made one feel like a tourist languishing somewhere in a more tropical locale rather than Lake Ontario! Planet IndigenUS ‘s finale was First Nations dancers wrapping up the festival by getting the crowd engaged in a round dance that shifted happily into something not so circular but nonetheless organic and full of life.
FASHIONALITY : Dress & Identity in Contemporary Canadian Art
Feeling like you need to get out of the city even if only for a few hours? Here is your opportunity!
As part of the Planet IndigenUS Festival at Harbourfront a shuttle service is taking off Thursday at 12:30 pm to head up North where the air is fresher, the trees maybe a little greener but style and sophistication will not be lacking at the final destination – The McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinberg, Ontario.
The McMichael is an important Canadian gallery and on until September 3 is an interesting exhibit that takes a look at the assembling of fashion with the visual arts and “what it means to be woven into Canada’s national fabric”.
1. One’s personality expressed in their clothing, “fashion personality.”
2. One’s nationality expressed in their clothing, “fashion nationality.”
– The Urban Dictionary
“Fashionality” is a newly coined term that refers to the visual culture and semiotics of dress and adornment. Combining the words “fashion,” “personality,” and “nationality,” it reflects the interplay between clothing, identity, and culture. The exhibition surrounds this theme, and explores the work of twenty-three contemporary Canadian artists who have employed apparel as a primary medium, subject or sign. Reflecting wide geographic and cultural diversity, it focuses upon the ways in which the concerns, identities, and aesthetics of those living in Canada are expressed, deconstructed, and reconfigured through the idiom of dress.” Read more on the McMichael Gallery website
This particular tour of the exhibit will be from an Aboriginal perspective and will feature discussion around the works of Aboriginal artists featured in the exhibit – Kent Monkman, K C Adams, Lori Blondeau, Dana Claxton and Meryl McMaster.
The Shuttle bus leaves Harbourfront Center at 12:30 pm on Thursday, August 16 and departs from the McMichael at 4pm arriving back in Toronto by approximately 5 pm. More info on the shuttle bus here.
Visit Harbourfront’s website for more on the Planet IndigenUS Festival programming or follow the festival on Facebook and twitter @PlanetIndigenUS